To understand Richard Tyler's new venture into contemporary sportswear, one had only to look at Garcelle Beauvais Nilon. Sitting in the front row of his show Friday, the television actress was red-carpet ready in one of Tyler's sexy, strapless red chiffon couture gowns.
Surrounded by legions of young trendites in low-slung jeans and shrunken tops, the elegantly dressed actress was out of her element. But the models on the runway wearing his new sportswear line called Tyler looked as if they could have been plucked from the audience.
The man who made his name with costumes for rockers and gowns for stars succeeded in translating his sexy, signature look into a relaxed yet sophisticated sportswear collection, created jointly with 30-year-old co-designer Erica Davies.
The new line offers a level of tailoring that isn't common at his mostly under-$300 price level. The item-driven contemporary market that he is entering needs fresh jacket ideas and the designer eagerly complied. He topped his flare-leg, low-slung trousers and raw-edged full skirts with everything from shrunken baseball jackets to suede blazers, androgynous Eton-striped wool jackets and a denim jacket made feminine with delicate, patterned string ties.
Despite poor lighting that blinded audience members, Tyler staged a professional presentation that was well received by the audience of 300, including stylists, buyers, journalists and celebrities such as actresses Bai Ling, Julie Delpy and Sarah Wynter.
It may be difficult for loyal Tyler fans, fed a steady diet of rich fabrics and complex tailoring, to adjust their appetites to the new Tyler "lite."
Some of the featherweight fabrics didn't translate well to some of his delicate dresses. In looks alone, Tyler's sportswear shares a sensibility with Stella McCartney and her former work at Chloe, a sign that he's tuned into the hip, pretty-young-thing vibe.